We absolutely loved racing at Pila this year which was all made possible by RideForCharlie.- heres a patchwork account of our racing week, each bit taken from a different point of view.
Day 1 Getting there (Chris Hilbert)
After a long few days driving, we arrived at the accommodation in Pila on the Sunday, I rode up to the main event car park to have a look around and it was like nothing I had ever seen before; it was so organised and there were so many teams. I met with Ben when he arrived and then us and the other riders from East Midlands went to have a team briefing, we worked out a plan for the next day and then went to bed.
Day 2 Practice (Chris Hilbert)
After a good night’s sleep Ben, Lotta and I met at the event arena and headed out to practice the course. The course was both physically and technically challenging and the altitude played havoc with my heart rate. We then went to practice the time trial course in preparation for the next days race. This was a fun and fast track around 2 minutes long with a challenging left hand corner that was catching a lot of people out. We practiced lines on this and eventually got it and that was course practice finished for the day.
Day 3 TT (Ben Chilton)
The TTs started at 9:30 with the u15 women and ran on until the u17 men at 3:00, there were over 200 u17 men and so it wasn’t until 4:16 when I set off in which time the rain hand started falling the mist had come in obscuring the racers views, the Scottish RideForCharlie team had already finished and so passed on that the corners were crazy slippy and we should take it a little easy. I got a clean start with no mechanicals like last year where I snapped my chain and had to run the entire lap. The corners where un-rideable at race speed I got through the technical part with only a short stall and pushed to the line. Everyone was frustrated with their rides as the goals they had set were unattainable with the weather condition. That evening there was a huge debrief after which i got to sleep with a little reassurance that I wasn’t out of place as in the top 32 there were only 5 riders who had less than ideal conditions.
Day 4 XCR (Lotta Mansfield)
I went off second in the TTT on the Wednesday after a good start from Chris, I rode hard to try and limit places being dropped to try and get the best position. I handed on to Ben with nothing left and happy with my effort. We came 52nd and 2 places higher than our starting place so we were happy with that!!
Day 5 XCE (Ben Chilton)
To qualify for the XCE you had to place in the top 32 in your category for men and top 16 for women, out of the whole of the UK only 2 rider qualified, Max Greensill and Emily Carrick-Anderson. As a team we wanted to cheer on our fellow country riders and so rode up, there was quite a lot of it as Max Greensill progressed to the finals and had a poor start but didn’t give up and made one of the best come backs ever and ended up winning the sprint. We exited the crazy mosh pit surrounding the newly crowded XCE euro champion and started the ride to the top of the downhill. At the top there was the little matter of collecting my GCSE results which were what I wanted and made the descent even more special, although maybe super stiff XC bikes weren’t the best for black downhill runs. We stopped at half way down refuelled and shared the news with the rest of the family, then continued down the DH run on which i decided it might be cool to see what a Sam hill black DH run would be like on 100mm worth of XC travel, by the bottom my brakes were completely cooked and arms and fingers severely shaken but i knew it was completely worth it.
Day 7 XC (Lotta Mansfield)
For the XC I was quite far down the grid so had lots of hold ups with traffic on the first lap. On the start I got my caught behind lots of crashes which meant I didn’t make up as many places as I had hoped for. During the race, I really tried to attack on the climbs and recover the best I could on the descents. I was happy to have ridden all the A lines without crashing! It was really hard around the arena and out of the woods due to the heat! I eventually came 68th after leaving everything I had out on the track. I really enjoyed racing in the huge field and riding a course that was so different to anything we get to race on back in the UK
This was a fantastic experience and we can’t thank rideforcharlie enough for the support to help it happen.